Julius Patricius

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Julius Patricius (Latin: Iulius Patricius or Patriciolus; Greek: Ἰούλιος Πατρίκιος; floruit 459-471) was a son of the powerful general Aspar, for almost two decades the effective power behind the throne of the Eastern Roman Empire. Of mixed Roman and barbarian origin, he was destined for the imperial throne by his father, and rose to the rank of Caesar under Emperor Leo I, before his father's murder in 471 led to his own downfall and possibly death.

Biography[edit]

Patricius was the third son of Aspar, the Alan magister militum of Emperor Leo I, and like his father—and most of the Germanic peoples—he was an Arian.

The name "Julius Patricius", of ostentatious Roman origin, suggests that the father had plans for him, up to the imperial throne. Patricius was appointed Roman consul in 459 by the Eastern court.

In 470, in an episode of the struggle for power between Aspar and the Isaurian general Zeno, Aspar persuaded the Emperor to appoint Patricius as Caesar and give him in marriage his daughter Leontia. However, as for the clergy and people of Constantinople a Arian was not eligible to become an Emperor, at the news of the appointment riots broke out in the city hippodrome, led by the head of the Sleepless Monks, Marcellus: Aspar and Leo had to promise to the bishops that Patricius would convert to Chalcedonian Orthodoxy before becoming Emperor, and that he would marry Leontia only after his conversion.

No coins of Patricius as Caesar were issued, and his only act in office was a trip to Alexandria, where he was welcomed with all the honours attributed to a Caesar.[1]

In 471 an imperial conspiracy caused the death of Aspar and of his eldest son Ardabur: it is possible that Patricius was killed on this occasion, although some sources report that he recovered from his wounds; in any case, after this episode, Patricius disappears from the sources. The marriage with Leontia was annulled, and later she married Marcian.

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ Brian Croke, "Dynasty and Ethnicity: Emperor Leo and the Eclipse of Aspar", Chiron 35 (2005), 193.

Bibliography[edit]

  • Alemany, Agustí, Sources on the Alans: A Critical Compilation, Brill Academic Publishers, 2000, ISBN 90-04-11442-4, p. 114.
  • Amory, Patrick, People and Identity in Ostrogothic Italy, 489-554, Cambridge University Press, 1997, ISBN 0-521-52635-3, p. 284, 288.
  • Bury, John Bagnall, "X.1 Leo I (A.D. 457‑474)", History of the Later Roman Empire, 1958, Dover Books, pp. 389–395
  • Thiele, Andreas, Erzählende genealogische Stammtafeln zur europäischen Geschichte Band III Europäische Kaiser-, Königs- und Fürstenhäuser Ergänzungsband, R.G. Fischer Verlag 1994 Tafel 490
  • Williams, Stephen, The Rome That Did Not Fall: the survival of the East in the fifth century, Routledge, 1999, ISBN 0-415-15403-0, p. 180.
Political offices
Preceded by
Imp. Caes. Julius Majorian Augustus,
Imp. Caes. Fl. Valerius Leo Augustus
Consul of the Roman Empire
459
with Fl. Ricimer
Succeeded by
Fl. Magnus,
Fl. Apollonius